1945. The newspapers all over the world printed the news everyone was waiting to hear. THE WAR IS OVER. Who can forget the most famous picture of the celebration in Times Square, New York of the sailor kissing the nurse in a heartfelt dip. In Chicago the streets were overflowing with victory celebrations, music was blaring and people were shouting with an overwhelming yell of joy. THE WAR IS OVER.
Strangers were hugging and kissing almost everyone in their delirium of happiness. And then, Johnny came marching home, just like the song of that period of time. My uncles, brother, our neighbors sons that had fought for our country were coming home. But not everyone. There were somber moments for those children, those sons and daughters who gave the ultimate sacrifice of their lives to defend our country and our freedom.
My memories of witnessing the soldiers coming home continue to inspire my life. First, I remember a soldier Sam C; the day when he went off to war and on that glorious day he returned. His son and I were buddies and we would always wonder when his Father would be coming home. Our apartments were at the end of a court yard and a long walk to the front of the building. I was there that day, for that moment of joy when a taxi cab pulled over to the curbside of the building and a soldier stepped out. He had a duffle bag on his shoulder and was running towards his wife who saw him and ran to meet him in the center of the court yard. Sam C was home.
If it were a movie you would have heard heart thumping music while the cameras followed their every move with their outstretched arms calling to each other. The tears flowed and then they were together hugging and kissing each other repeating their names over and over. Their son and daughter ran to meet their Daddy with more hugs and kisses. To this day I still remember that homecoming. Oh the joy they must have felt after that long war to be reunited as a family.
I remember so many others coming home including my Uncle Sidney, my Mother’s youngest brother. He was a sailor stationed in the Philippines for most of the war (I will talk further about him in future blogs). He came to our apartment to visit Mom. The moment she saw her baby brother she began to scream and cry with happiness. She hugged and kissed him till his face turned red and then he said to Mom “Rosie why are you crying?” She replied, “Because I thank God you have returned and you are where you should be”. He replied with a gentle voice filled with love and admiration and simply said “Then stop crying, I’m here Rosie.”
There was quiet. Mom with still teary eyes listened to him as he told us about the war in the Pacific and how he was affected. That dear reader will have to wait until I write part two to this event, not only about Chicago Then but in the World Then as well.
Memories light the corner of my mind and I hope yours too!
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